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Billy Bragg accuses Taylor Swift of “corporate power play”

By | Published on Wednesday 19 November 2014

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg has accused Taylor Swift’s stand against Spotify as being “nothing more than a corporate power play”, suggesting that she had in fact been paid by Google to promote its new YouTube Music Key subscription service.

Writing on Facebook yesterday, Bragg said: “What a shame that Taylor Swift’s principled stand against those who would give her music away for free has turned out to be nothing more than a corporate power play. On pulling her music from Spotify recently, she made a big issue of the fact that the majority of the streaming service’s users listen to her tracks for nothing rather than signing up to the subscription service”.

Noting her statements that music should be considered to have value, rather than being accessible for free, he continued: “These worthy sentiments have been somewhat undermined by Swift making her new album and back catalogue available on Google’s new Music Key streaming service… which also offers listeners a free service alongside a premium subscription tier”.

“She should just be honest with her fans and say, ‘Sorry, but Sergey Brin gave me a huge amount of money to be the headline name on the marquee for the launch of YouTube Music Key and so I’ve sold my soul to Google'”, he said.

He added that “YouTube is the greatest threat to any commercially based streaming service”, speculating that the launch of Music Key is Google following a “Starbucks strategy” of trying to put its competitors out of business by overwhelming the market. In a final note to Swift, he said: “Please don’t try to sell this corporate power play to us as some sort of altruistic gesture in solidarity with struggling music makers”.

Responding to Bragg’s post in a statement, a spokesperson for Swift said: “Taylor Swift has had absolutely no discussion or agreement of any kind with Google’s new music streaming service”.

While Swift’s catalogue will be available on YouTube Music Key – despite also being available fully on-demand for free elsewhere on the platform too – her new album, ‘1989’, will not be playable on the new subscription-based product, as with other licensed streaming services.

Update 20 Nov 9.45am: Taylor Swift’s back catalogue is not available on YouTube Music Key, contrary to previous reports.